Correction: FUSD negotiations

Friday’s print edition of The Argus had a story about the three Fremont Unified School District assistant superintendents volunteering to take 5 percent pay cuts.

The article went on to say that the district has discussed salary reductions with employee groups but that no union has agreed to pay cuts. It turns out that the district has met with the teachers union (and negotiations are ongoing), but there has been no talks yet with CSEA or SEIU leaders.

The article has been corrected online, and a correction should appear in Saturday’s print edition.

While we’re on the topic of cuts, what do you think of the asst. superintendents’ actions? Did they lead by example? Should they — as the highest paid employees behind the superintendent — have offered to take a bigger cut? Should the employee groups agree to pay cuts themselves?


Do Fremont voters support a parcel tax to help schools?

I’ve gotten a few phone calls/e-mails today from readers upset that the Fremont school board is thinking of asking voters to support a parcel tax in the midst of the largest recession since the Great Depression. Some also are upset that the board this week approved $105,000 in consultant fees, public outreach and a voter poll. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Consultant: $25,000
  • Educational materials: $60,000 (I’ve been told the materials will explain why the money is needed and how it will be spent, etc.)
  • Poll: $20,000

While writing the article, I anticipated that some people would take issue with the $105K expenditures, given the nearly $33 million in budget cuts that trustees preliminarily approved last month.

I asked board President Lara York if she felt the expenses are justified. Her comments did not make it into the article due to space and deadline constraints, but she said the board is being “extremely responsible” by spending a fraction of the total cost to place a measure on a ballot in order to gauge voter support before it commits to spending more money.

The poll will help determine what tax rate voters are most likely to support, as well as the district’s chances of passing a tax in November (or if another election cycle would be better).

In upcoming months, some of you will probably be surveyed about a parcel tax. I know the consultant that FUSD hired will conduct a more thorough and scientific poll, but til then, here’s your chance to weigh in on whether voters should support a tax.


FAME Public Charter School audited

We had a story in Sunday’s paper about FAME Public Charter School and an audit which found a number of questionable business practices at the school — from using the wrong funds to pay bills and failing to report full wages on tax forms to using taxpayers’ dollars to pay the executive director’s speeding ticket.

The full audit report should have been posted online yesterday, but it didn’t make it to our Web site until today. To read the story and accompanying audit, click here.

Also, I noticed on the FAME Web site that it’s seeking candidates to serve on its governing board. Click here for more info if you’re interested.


Investigation continues into Fremont’s officer-involved shooting


Photo by Anda Chu (staff)

I’m outside the house where a man died after apparently being shot by at least one Fremont officer on Valentine’s Day. I see five officers and a police dog on scene on Day 2 of the investigation. The officers have been examining a blue truck parked on the driveway all afternoon.

The 52-year-old man, whose name hasn’t been released by authorities, was believed to have been drinking and armed when officers responded to a call about a family disturbance in south Fremont around 11:40 a.m. Sunday. At one point, the man aimed a handgun toward police. Four veteran officers fired their guns, killing the man, according to a police statement. For today’s story, click here. Continue Reading


Fremont school board looks at budget cuts

The district staff is recommending the board cut at least $16 million from next year’s budget and has prepared a report listing areas that the board could cut to save a total of $22 million. Tonight will be discussion only. The board isn’t scheduled to vote on the cuts until next month, at the earliest. For today’s article, click here.

I should clarify tonight’s timeline, as it wasn’t clear in the article:

Around 5:30/5:45 p.m.: teachers will gather to rally against cuts

6 p.m.: The public can address the board before it heads into closed session to discuss negotiations with employee groups. Some teachers plan to speak at this time.

6:30 p.m.: Regular meeting will start. The public will have another opportunity to address the board at this time. Teachers again plan to speak.

To read the district staff report, including the areas of possible cuts, click here.


Fremont Unified eliminates parent conferences

There’s an article in today’s paper about Fremont Unified eliminating the two traditional parent conference days as part of this year’s budget cuts. Teachers had their work year reduced by five days (equivalent to about a 2.67 percent pay cut), so they’re not meeting with every parent. Some will still meet with parents who request a conference, but there are reports that other teachers are refusing to set up face-to-face meetings, opting instead to communicate by phone or e-mail. (District officials say they expect that if a parent specifically requests a meeting, that teachers would still honor that request.)

Some parents feel they’re not missing much by not having conferences, while others are outraged. Some feel the elimination of face-to-face time with teachers is a step back for a district whose leaders say they want to improve communication with stakeholders.

What do you think?


FUSD superintendent search

In the first of what most likely will be a series of special meetings to discuss the search for a new superintendent, the Fremont school board on Tuesday decided it would look at external candidates as well as current district employees (at least for now). The last time the board conducted a full search was in 2002, when it eventually hired John Rieckewald, an outsider, as schools chief. The two superintendents after him were hired from within the district.

Milt Werner, the current superintendent who’s retiring in June, said he favored a thorough search. “Without question, we have excellent internal candidates, but it’s healthy” to do a search, he said. “It looks long; it looks arduous, but you have more than 32,000 kids on your hands. You have an awesome responsibility.”

During the meeting, the head of the district’s management association said the group would like the board to conduct a full search to ensure it was not overlooking qualified candidates. Meanwhile, the president of the California School Employees Association said an internal candidate was preferred and singled out Parvin Ahmadi, assistant superintendent of instruction, as “excellent.”

Neither Ahmadi nor the other two assistant superintendents have said if they’ll apply.

It’s not clear yet how much hiring a firm to conduct a search would set the district back. The board tentatively is scheduled to vote Monday (during its joint meeting with the City Council) whether to advertise that it’s looking to hire a search firm.






MSJE picket

UPDATE (8:18 p.m.): The school board voted 3-2 not to transfer Curtis from MSJE. Trustees Ivy Wu, Lily Mei and Larry Sweeney voted not to move her. Trustees Bryan Gebhardt and Lara York were the “no” votes.

The regular board meeting also started nearly 1.5 hours late — a new record! I don’t know if the hold-up was due to the board not coming to an agreement over this decision or if it had to do with another issue.


(ORIGINAL ENTRY): Here’s a photo that someone submitted from Tuesday’s picket at Mission San Jose Elementary. A group of parents say their principal, Bonnie Curtis, is being forced to transfer to another campus, even though the administrator said it ultimately was her decision. Read the full story by clicking here.

The school board is scheduled to vote on the possible reassignment tonight.



SWAT training in Union City, not a real crime scene

For the second time in recent months, I’ve been tripped up by police scanner traffic that led me to believe there was an active SWAT incident going on in the Tri-City area.

In May I heard SWAT action on the Fremont police radio channels, and it turned out to be nothing more than a training exercise at a defunct car dealership. And today I heard similar static on the Union City radio channels. One big difference though: I didn’t race out there today with my notebook and press pass in hand. Instead I was able to confirm by telephone that stuff I was hearing was indeed a training exercise.

I suppose it’s a dead give away when you hear an officer calmly say “shots fired,” instead of screaming it as would be the case if the incident were real.

For you scanner junkies, be aware that this training will also be taking place tomorrow.